Turkey's PM criticizes Gulen’s New York Times article

Turkey's PM criticizes Gulen’s New York Times article

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Saturday criticized U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gulen's article published in the New York Times on Feb. 3 that criticized the ruling Justice and Development or AK Party, Anadolu agency reported.

"Gulen kept silent on Feb. 28 1997; Sept. 12, 1980 military coup; and any kind of persecution against Muslims, non-Muslims, Kurds and Alevis, but now, he claims that 'everyone in Turkey' is now under persecution, using freedom of speech which was served during AK Party's term," Davutoglu said.

On Feb. 28, 1997, the military had deposed the then elected Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan.

"So what this person wants to do? He lobbies in the U.S. Congress. He tries to provoke Armenian, Greek and Jewish lobbies against us. And he also says 'all of you are under pressure, resist' from where he lives," the premier said.

Self-exiled Pennsylvania-based Gulen is said to be the leader of the Gulen movement, which is accused of masterminding an illegal organization that is trying to topple the Turkish government through what has been dubbed as the "parallel state," an alleged group of Turkish bureaucrats and senior officials nestled within key institutions of the state, such as the police and the judiciary.

Gulen has been in the U.S. since leaving Turkey in 1999 allegedly for "medical reasons." Shortly after his departure, Turkish prosecutors opened a case against him for incitement to attacking the secular state. He was acquitted in 2008.

Davutoglu also spoke about the latest development in the ongoing illegal wiretapping operations in Turkey. He confirmed that two suspects wanted in the case were detained in Romania, where they had escaped.

"An arrest warrant has been issued for these two people. We have some agreement for extradition with Romania and we discussed this issue with the country's officials," he said.

Interior Minister Efkan Ala also spoke about the two suspects in Romanian custody Saturday. "Our Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched legal procedures for extradition. I think we will get results in a short time," Ala said.

The two suspects detained in Romania are suspected of involvement in bugging the office of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his tenure as prime minister before August 2014.

According to the Izmir governorate, 92 people, including high-ranking army officers, academics, senior policemen and journalists, were illegally wiretapped between 2009 and 2013. To date, hundreds of police officers have been detained and questioned in the alleged wiretapping probe.

The ongoing operations follow a December 2013 probe that led to the arrest of several high-profile figures, including the sons of three former government ministers and leading business people.

The government has blamed the wiretapping case on the Gulen movement, and accuses the alleged "parallel state" of attempting to infiltrate and undermine the Turkish administration.

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